The Secret Life of Melanie O.
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
After Dinner Tea with Dan
Dan and I have a nightly ritual. After dinner, we usually settle down with a hot cup of tea and something sweet to nibble on. There are a couple of rules for myself, though, that I regret if I break:
  • One: it has to be a smallish cup of tea unless I want to be up and down all night with trips to the bathroom and
  • Two: it has to be an herbal infusion of some kind, as caffeine will keep me awake for hours.
So, tonight I was rummaging around in the pantry, looking for herbal tea while Dan boiled the water in the kettle.

"I'm running out of herbal teas," I declared to my husband, who made sure I was going to use a small cup. "All there are, are these flavored black teas, and I can't have caffeine."

Without missing a beat, Dan offered:

"Why don't you have a coffee instead?"

There are good reasons why we're together. Laughter is probably healthier than tea.
posted by Melanie O. at 7:34 PM - 0 comments
Sunday, June 15, 2008
Dan's 50th
Dan has his 50th birthday on Wednesday, but we celebrated last night. It's a truism that birthdays were meant to be celebrated on the weekend, unless you can manage to take time off from work. Dan hasn't had a birthday party since he turned 30, so this had to be a little bit special. 50 is one of those milestone birthdays that I, at least, can't let slip by, unnoticed.

The preparations were made several months in advance. I booked the local Italian restaurant, well known in the area. You can't get a table in there unless you book well in advance. And then I invited 10 of Dan's closest friends to come to dinner with us. At the last minute, there were 11, but the restaurant was accommodating.

Two of the dinner guests were a bit of a surprise for Dan. They live a good two and a half hour drive away down the highway, in Canberra. I wasn't sure they'd be able to come, so I kept it a secret from Dan. By the time they said they'd be able to make it, we decided to still keep it a secret. These are friends we haven't seen in months, so, I made sure that Dan was convinced that they would not be able to attend. Other guests had just gotten back from a trip overseas and were a little jet-lagged, but they came anyway. It's lovely to know you have such good friends.

Dan and his parents

The restaurant, Esco Pazzo lived up to its reputation. A gas fire burned in the fireplace and kept the dining area cozy. The weathered brick building with its heavy wood beams lent the perfect atmosphere for a winter meal. We all sat down and began our orders, and I was concerned that maybe our Canberra friends would not show up - but they did, and surprised Dan. He was so tickled that they drove all that way just to have dinner with us. I think, as we get older, this is what makes birthdays special - not gifts of "things," but gifts of time and good friends, food, and atmosphere.

Although it sounds cheesy, a good time was had by all. We all agreed that we would go back and have dinner at the restaurant again, and we wouldn't need a special occasion to have to go. Every time friends get together and go out and have a good time, it's a special occasion. And the food? It was fabulous. I had duck ravioli - a peppery concoction with a tomato infused bechamel sauce that was out of this world! I can still taste it in my memory and I will be going back for more at some point.

Of course, we finished up with cake, ice cream, and sparkling wine at our house, and by 10pm, people were fading. That's what happens when you have a great time, good wine and lots of laughs (and in some cases, jet lag.) The smile never left Dan's face.

Happy birthday, Dan.
posted by Melanie O. at 9:34 AM - 7 comments
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
The birds win
We live in the country, and, as such, there are always "critters" around - from rats in the roof, to birds in the chimney, and snakes in the woodpile. Recently, the birds have taken the prize for being the most annoying house guests. Besides kicking debris and moulted feathers down the chimney, you can hear them flapping and carrying on in the evenings as they settle in for the night. So, Dan decided that they had to go.

He examined the chimney. We have two fireplaces, back to back, and the chimneys are separate. Each chimney has a ledge where the chimney tapers - perfect for nest building. The dining room chimney looked clear - so it must be the chimney in our front lounge that was home to the culprits.

Dan decided that we would smoke the birds out. Never mind that the fireplace in the front lounge has a coal insert. Dan decided to burn wood and paper to make lots of smoke. I had my doubts - the damper in the coal insert isn't large enough to let the wood and paper smoke up the chimney - it wasn't designed for that.

Dan was sure that his plan would work however, so he carefully collected kindling (just damp enough for the required amount of smoke) and gathered up old personal papers that he was going to burn anyway. Within a few minutes, he had run us out of the lounge room.

It was a lovely smoky fire - so smoky that the damper couldn't handle it, and smoke poured into the lounge room. Dan poured water all over the fire to put it out, creating an ashy mud in the coal insert. I ran and opened up the front window to let the smoke out, but the carpet, walls, and furniture now have the aroma of smoke. We'll need to wash everything.

The birds are still there.
posted by Melanie O. at 11:23 AM - 5 comments
Saturday, June 07, 2008
I recently bought two biographies of Marilyn Monroe, and am reading them "together" to compare and contrast the facts about this actress who has achieved a kind of immortality, more than forty five years after her death. One is by Fred Guiles and the other was written by Gloria Steinem. They are a study in similarities and contrasts (in fact, Ms Steinem's book often borrows from Guiles' writing to extrapolate further.)

What's interesting to me is that both books attribute Marilyn's persona to her deprived youth and childhood. Marilyn had few islands of stability as a child growing up and was driven to invent herself as an adult. She learned early on that she could use sex to open doors and seemed to have no qualms in doing so. She was smarter than she let on to those around her, and was determined to be taken seriously as an actress. She worked at honing her craft, and died of a barbiturate overdose just at the height of her fame.

Today, I was in House, a discount housewares store to purchase some Murano glass beads for some necklaces that I'm making. There, in one of the aisles, were ready to hang posters of Marilyn for sale - Marilyn from The Seven Year Itch and Marilyn from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. Over the months, I've seen them disappear, only to reappear with more stock. Marilyn is still saleable, and it's not just men that love Marilyn. We women love her, too. She defined sexy, yet vulnerable, worldly, yet innocent - every contradiction rolled into one peroxide package. Over the years, other actresses have tried to emulate Marilyn, but have come off being a bit overdone and tacky.

I have to wonder, had she lived to old age, would she have faded into obscurity, with just the power of her name to remind us that she was once "someone?" I think of Marilyn with a tinge of sadness, and think about all of the serious acting roles that she wanted to pursue. Her passing meant the end of an era, but I've come to realize that she still has influence on me. She's shown me that women can be smart and funny and sexy, but that we can also burn ourselves out by trying to be everything to everyone.

Dan calls me his "little Marilyn," but most of us are just a pale shadow of the original, and to be honest, and I wouldn't even want to try to be another Marilyn. That's asking the impossible.
posted by Melanie O. at 4:55 PM - 2 comments

About Me
Name: Melanie O.
Home: Durham, North Carolina, United States
About Me: Female, American health and beauty-conscious professional who has rekindled a childhood love of dolls.
See my profile...

Another Retro Housewife
Brought to you by
Previous Posts
If you read this blog,
you're not alone!
Sydney Weather
    The WeatherPixie
Favorite Links

You are visitor number